[VISUALIZATION] The Amazing Denver Twitter Visualization

March 4, 2015

Denver Twitter Visualized

The Amazing Denver Twitter Visualization

Denver is a vibrant city full of millennials. These residents are active members of the community and they love to share their stories. They tweet, Instagram and post their life experiences across social media. One feature users leave enabled on Twitter is known as geotagging. Every time a Twitter user tweets with this feature enabled it embeds the user’s latitude and longitude into the tweet. This hidden data, often called metadata, means you can see exactly where a user was located when they sent the tweet. Geotagging means Twitter has a large repository of information regarding user behavior and where their users are located when using their service.

The Dataset

The dataset used to create these maps contains 6,341,973,478 tweets. You didn’t misread that. That’s 6.3 billion tweets collected over a period of two years totaling near 4 terabytes of JSON data. Only 9% of the 6.3 billion tweets are visible. The others are filtered out as duplicate or near-duplicate locations. For instance, every Foursquare check-in to a particular venue is tagged with the same location, and it doesn’t help the map to draw that same dot over and over. Let’s take a look around the Denver metro area for some interesting patterns or clusters of Twitter activity from this vast dataset.

Denver Metro Area

Denver Metro Twitter, Visualization
You can clearly see much of the Denver metro infrastructure grid from this zoom-level. Downtown Denver, I-25, Boulder and Denver International Airport are all clearly visible hotspots of Twitter activity.

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport Tweets
Here we can clearly see activity at Denver International Airport with particular clustering in the terminal and all three concourses. I think it’s cool to see clustering in areas that are clearly people sitting on planes waiting to taxi. Let’s take a closer look at DIA for some more detail.

Denver International Airport Close-Up

DIA Tweet Heat Map

 Local Shopping Districts
Aurora Town Center Twitter Map

Here we see clustering inside Town Center at Aurora at Alameda Ave. and I-225.

Cherry Creek Twitter Map

Here we see a huge spike of activity throughout the Cherry Creek shopping district. One trend I noticed was all of the dense clusters north of 1st avenue are associated with restaurants. Could this be the result of people tweeting photos of their food?

Park Meadows Mall Twitter Visualization Map

Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, CO sees a similar trend to Cherry Creek. There are high levels of activity throughout the mall, but the dense clusters are centered around the food court and other eateries. There is one exception. One cluster is surrounding the Tesla Motors storefront inside the mall. This can be explained by the fact that Tesla provides great visuals and sense of amazement leading to more social currency for their brand.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Red Rocks Amphitheater Twitter Map

This one shouldn’t be a surprise anyone. Red Rocks Amphitheater is a huge cluster of tweets, one of the most popular locations in the Denver metro. One fascinating thing to note is the cluster density increases dramatically as you get closer to the stage. It’s only logical, but still awesome nonetheless. I’m proud to say one of those dots is mine. Jack White, you killed it that night.

Coors Field
Coors Field Twitter Map

Next up we have the LoDo district of downtown Denver including Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. It’s not shocking to see Coors Field loaded with Twitter activity, though it’s interesting most of it takes place on the east side of the stadium. Other popular Twitter locations with high cluster density include Beta Nightclub, Lodo’s Bar & Grill and Marquis Pizza.

 16th Street Mall

Twitter Map of Downtown Denver

The 16th Street Mall is the heart of downtown Denver. It’s likely the most popular tourist attraction for folks visiting our great city. Where do most tweets come from along the mall? Between Welton and Tremont, the location of the Denver Pavilions shopping center.

Pepsi Center & Sports Authority Field

Pepsi Center Twitter Map

Sports Authority Field Twitter Map

The Pepsi Center is incredibly dense with tweets, even more than Sports Authority Field and Coors Field combined. Why the discrepancy? I’d speculate by saying it’s because Pepsi Center is the primary venue for large music tours and other shows that come to Denver. This venue is also shared between multiple professional sports teams (NBA, NHL, MLL) leading to a great diversity of audiences and sheer number of people attending events.

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder Twitter Map, Visualization

How could we leave out Boulder? They have a very high level of Twitter activity throughout the city. Obviously the University of Colorado Boulder is a major factor, but the most dense cluster location is the Pearl Street Mall. The combination of a large student population, vast amounts of shopping and entertaining street performers makes Pearl Street a hot spot for social media activity.

Why I love it, and why it worries me

Big data can provide tremendous amounts of value. It can show us patterns of behavior and other insights that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the technological capability to compile all this data. Big data is the future of sociological research and new conveniences we never even imagined, but it doesn’t come without caution.

Do we want to provide this kind of data to the government and corporations? With the increased conveniences big data can provide breeds less privacy. We have to be sure it’s worth it to us as humans in the long-run.

I believe there is no argument that data science will advance humanity as we know it. However, we also need to understand what the trade-offs will be to other elements of our lives. Can we accept those trade-offs?

I say yes, they are worth it.